Could the rain be one of the causes of autism?

Wednesday 5th November, 2008

According to new research from the United States, living in an area that has high annual rainfall levels could place children at an increased risk of developing autism.

Scientists from the Cornell University have identified a link between rainfall and the prevalence of autism which raises the question of whether the environment is triggering the disorder.

During the last 30 years, cases of autism have increased from 1 in every 2,500 children to 1 in every 150. Part of this increase has been put down to better monitoring and diagnosis but scientists claim the chances of environmental factors increasing prevalence of autism cannot be excluded

The prevalence rates of autism among children in California, Oregon and Washington during 2005 had a positive link to the level of rainfall these areas had between 1987 and 2001. Prevalence was higher where children under 3 years old lived in areas that experienced heavy rainfall.

Explanations for this link include increased time spent indoors due to the rain – children are more likely to watch TV and play computer games which have been linked to behavioural and cognitive development – exposure to higher levels of chemicals from cleaning products and a lack of sunshine which encourages production of Vitamin D in the body. And rainfall itself may contain harmful chemical found in the upper atmosphere.

While this latest study has pointed out that there is no clinical evidence of autism being triggered by the environment, the results go some way to establishing a link.

Learn more about autism and the alternative medicine and complementary therapies that can help with the disorder here



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